Major town in the heart of the wine growing Clare Valley
Clare is the major township in the Clare Valley. It is an ideal place to stay if you intend exploring the thirty wineries which are dotted through the valley. Historically the town prospered as an important service centre for the surrounding agricultural district. Today it is the heart of the Clare Valley and is surrounded by vineyards (mainly to the south), cereal cropping and sheep farming. It is used as a base for most visitors wanting to explore the Clare Valley and sample the diversity of wines offered in the region.
Clare is located 143 km north of Adelaide via Gawler and the Horrocks Highway.^ TOP
Origin of Name
The district around Clare was first settled in the early 1840s by Edward ('Paddy') Burton Gleeson. It was initially known as The Twins (after the two gum trees where Gleeson first pitched his tent), Inchiquin (after the name of his property), Gleeson's Village (for obvious reasons) and eventually Gleeson named the township after County Clare, his home county in Ireland.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Clare Historic Walk
There is an excellent brochure - Clare Historic Walk - which can be downloaded at https://www.walkingsa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Clare-Historical-Walk-brochure-text.pdf. It lists a total of 30 places of historic interest and suggests that a complete walk will take around 90 minutes to two hours. Of particular interest (and this really is an exceptional town when it comes to interesting historic buildings) are:
2. Wesleyan Chapel
Located in Victoria Road and built in 1857 and listed by State Heritage, the chapel is located next to the Methodist Church which was opened in 1867. In recent times the two churches have been joined.
3. St Michael's Church
Located on Victoria Road, St Michael's church is now part of the town's Catholic school. It was built between 1873 and 1883 in a Baroque style with Daniel Garlick being one of the architects.
5. Old Police Station - National Trust Museum
Located on the corner of Neagles Rock Road and Victoria Road, the Clare Old Police Station Museum is open Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from 10.00 am - noon and from 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm. The police station was Clare's first public building. In 1888 it became a casualty hospital and it was leased to the National Trust of South Australia in 1969. The website (see https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/clare-old-police-station-and-courthouse-museum) explains that it "has collections of costume, furniture, domestic memorabilia and historic photographs of the area and its inhabitants displayed in four rooms including items originally belonging to the founder of Clare, Edward Burton Gleeson (1803-1870), and pioneering Bowman family of local Martindale Hall. There are also objects relating to WWI as well as an interesting WWII collapsible paratrooper’s bicycle. In the grounds there are also some agricultural machinery and early horse drawn vehicles in a covered area."
8. Knappstein Winery
Located off the Main North Road this distinctive and substantial building was completed in August 1878 as the Clare Enterprise Brewery. At the time it made the amusingly named Racecourse Beer as well as lemonade and soda water. Brewing stopped in 1916 although aerated water and cordial production continued with the firm renamed as the Clare Mineral Waters Company. In 1976 it was taken over by Knappstein Wines. They specialise in red and white table wines derived from cabernet sauvignon, riesling, sauvignon blanc, malbec, pinot gris and shiraz grapes. It is open Monday to Friday 10.00 am - 5.00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 11.00 am - 4.00 pm. Check out https://www.knappstein.com.au.
9. Maynard Park
Located in Pioneer Avenuet, and previously known as Pioneer Park, this park gave its name to the first town in the district, The Twins. This was because there were two large twin gum trees in the area. The local blacksmith, John Maynard, cut a seat out of a large gum tree so he could serve meals to shearers and labourers. The tree seat has been listed on the local heritage register. The tree and the park were given to the local council in 1941.
11. St Barnabas Church
Listed by the State Heritage and located at the end of lane running off Farrell Flat Road, St Barnabas was opened in 1851, consecrated in 1864 with the chancel and vestry being added in 1875 to a design by architect R R Page. The design was Gothic and it was capable of holding a congregation of around 200 people. It fell into disrepair very quickly and by 1864 the western end had been rebuilt. For a more detailed early history of the building check https://www.flickr.com/photos/31967465@N04/23726552536.
12. Billygoat Hill
Located at the top of Wright Street (there is parking and a healthy walk), this offers an excellent view of Clare. It was named as a joke. Some local told a journalist from Adelaide that it was named Billygoat Hill (it wasn't) and the name stuck. To access it turn off the Main North Road at Lennon Street and then turn north in Union Street until you reach Wright Street which offers easy access to the lookout.
Located next door to the Court House in Old North Road, the Institute, an impressive Italianate building, was completed in 1872. Dr Bain, a local philanthropist, was instrumental in the construction of the building.
16. Clare Courthouse
Located in Old North Road, opposite Ness Street, the Courthouse was built in 1878 and first occupied in 1880. It has been in continuous use since that time. In the 1920s a police sergeant's house and some cells with cobblestone floors were built next to the courthouse.
17. National Australia Bank
Located in the main street this handsome old bank was built in 1881 and is a very typical bank from the era. A symbol of stability and prosperity.
18. ANZ Bank
Located in the main street, and still the ANZ Bank, this building was constructed in 1877 by the ESA (English, Scottish & Australian) Chartered Bank.
19. Clare Town Hall
Located at 229 Main North Road and opened in 1926, the Town Hall has an important collection of documents as the Community History website explains: "Housed upstairs in the old Town Hall's former council chambers and Mayoral parlour on Clare’s main street, this extensive range of local church, school, council, cemetery and BDM records, photographs, newspapers and publications covering the history of Clare and the surrounding villages has been gathered and preserved by this community group since the 1980s. As well as local records and newspapers, the collection includes an extensive library of books published about the area, as well as family and district histories.Members of the group receive minutes of meetings and newsletters, with articles of historical interest, an update of members' activities and additions to the Collection, and excerpts from early newspapers, such as The Northern Argus." For more information check http://community.history.sa.gov.au/clare-regional-history-group. It is open Thursday and Friday from 1.00 pm - 4.00 pm. Tel: (08) 8842 4100 for additional information.
20. Old Town Hall
Located at 203 Main North Road, and now shops and the offices of the Northern Argus, the Old Town Hall is State Heritage listed. Built in 1866 by a private company it was sold to the Clare Corporation in 1875 and operated as the Town Hall until it was replaced by the new town hall in 1926. Note that the clock has been blocked out. The entire building was sold for $645,000 in 2016.
21. Former AMP Building
An impressive building on the roundabout at the end of Main North Road, it was built in 1917 and has notable - look carefully - carving on the facade.
26. Mr Mick Historic Buildings
Located in Dominic Street, these historic buildings were built for the Clare Fruit Preserving Company but, by 1894, the Stanley Wine Company was using the location as the base for their operations. In recent times it has become the cellar door for Mr Mick.
Neagles Rock Lookout
Continue south from Clare on Neagles Rock Road and there is a signpost pointing the way to Neagles Rock Lookout which offers panoramic views over the Clare Valley.
Other Attractions in the Area
If you think that no one should drink and drive then drinking and cycling is a wonderful and much safer alternative. The historic railway line between Clare and Auburn (it was built in 1860) has been covered with easy-to-walk-on gravel and opened up as the Riesling Trail. The Riesling Trail allows wine enthusiasts the opportunity to walk or cycle up the Clare Valley removed from the dangers of the main road. They can experience the quiet beauty of the area and, eventually, there will be numerous sideways off the main Trail which will encourage visitors to divert to 35 wineries and craft shops. It is just a very charming and pleasant walkway/cycleway which passes such famous wineries as Sevenhill, Grosset, Knappstein and Mt Horrocks. Bicycles can be hired in Clare either from Clare Valley Cycle Hire (https://clarevalleycyclehire.com.au) or Riesling Trail Bike Hire (http://www.rieslingtrailbikehire.com.au). There is an excellent, downloadable map of the entire route. Check out https://www.clarevalley.com.au/assets/maps/Riesling-Trail-Map.pdf.
Wineries in the Area
In areas like the Clare Valley, where there are 35 cellar doors, it is best to refer to the specific knowledge provided by the local tourist information sites. The Clare Valley Cellar Door site (https://www.clarevalley.com.au/wine/cellar-doors) provides a map and all the details of opening hours, phone numbers and contact points.
Here are two in the district:
Jim Barry Wines
Located at 33 Craig Hill Road, north of Clare this family winery was established in 1959 (Jim Barry started planting the vines in 1947) and specialises in quality red and white table wines, ports and sparkling wines derived from cabernet sauvignon, riesling and shiraz grapes. It is open seven days for tastings and sales. Monday to Friday 9.00 am - 5.00 pm and Weekends 9.00 am - 4.00 pm. Tel: (08) 8842 2261 or check out https://www.jimbarry.com.
Tim Adams Wines
Located on Warenda Road, south of Clare this small winery was established in 1986 and specialises in red and white table wines and fortified wines derived from cabernet sauvignon, riesling, semillon, Malbec, pinot gris and shiraz grapes. It is open seven days for tastings and sales. Monday to Friday 10.30 am - 5.00 pm and weekends 11.00 am - 5.00 pm. Tel: (08) 8842 2429 or check out https://www.timadamswines.com.au.
Located 12 km north of Clare on the Main North Road, Bungaree became an important property when George Hawker chose the site for his head station in 1841. It grew to become one of the great South Australian properties with its own farm cottages, manager's house, shearing sheds, church (St Michael's consecrated in 1864), local council chambers (built in 1868) and, by the 1880s, it was a property carring over 100,000 merino sheep. It is now recognised as one of Australia's finest merino studs. It is a real living museum and group tours can be made by appointment. It is also possible to do a self guided history trail "comprising of a series of audioposts, signs and displays) which enables visitors to explore the historic station complex, including the Station Store, Homestead Gardens, St Michael’s Church and the Woolshed, learn more about South Australia’s pioneering past and hear fascinating stories of people who lived and worked at Bungaree." The Bungaree Homestead, a glorious two-storey building, is one of Australia's finest 19th century houses. Visitors stay in a range of accommodation around the property. Tel: (08) 8842 2677 or check out http://bungareestation.com.au.
* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Ngadjuri Aboriginal people.
* Edward John Eyre passed through the area in 1839 and described it as the best country he had seen since the Adelaide Hills.
* John Horrocks', the explorer, established a sheep station in the Hutt Valley near the present-day town of Clare in 1839.
* Clare itself was first settled in the early 1840s by Edward ('Paddy') Burton Gleeson. The area was variously known as The Twins (after the two gum trees where Gleeson first pitched his tent), Inchiquin (after the name of a property), Gleeson's Village (for obvious reasons) and eventually Gleeson, to remove confusion, named the township after County Clare, his home place in Ireland.
* Gleeson purchased 500 acres and by 1842 he had it surveyed and some of it divided into small blocks. It was around this time that he planted crops leading to the claim that he was the first person to reap a grain in South Australia.
* By 1848 David Kenny, another Irishman, had leased land from Gleeson and established the town's first pub.
* St Michael's Catholic Church was opened in 1849.
* The first Court House and Police Station were built in 1850.
* St Barnabas' Church of England was consecrated in 1851.
* Clare District Council was formed in 1853.
* By 1868 the town had a corporation which was dominated by Gleeson who became known as 'the King of Clare'.
* A new Clare Courthouse was built in 1854.
* A Wesleyan chapel was built in 1857.
* The council established a town cemetery in 1872. That same year the first public school in town was built for £605/16/5.
* In 1878 the Clare Enterprise Brewery was built. It is now the Knapstein winery.
* By 1880 the Court House in the centre of town was administering justice.
* The Riverton to Clare railway was opened in 1918.
* Clare Town Hall was officially opened in 1926.
* Passenger rail services ceased in 1954.
* In 1983 rail stopped after the Ash Wednesday bushfires damaged the track.^ TOP
Clare Valley Wine, Food and Tourism Centre on the corner of Spring Gully Road and Horrocks Highway, Clare, tel: 1800 242 131, (08) 8842 2131. Open 9.00 am - 5.00 pm Monday to Friday.^ TOP
There is an official Clare Valley website. Check out https://www.clarevalley.com.au.^ TOP